UNITED NATIONS: North Korea was accused at the UN Security Council on Thursday (Aug 17) of spending heavily on its nuclear arms programme while its people go hungry and lack basic necessities.
Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the council that people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have experienced increasingly severe political repression while economic conditions have worsened, with widespread systematic human rights violations.
“Many of the violations I have referred to stem directly from, or support, the increasing militarisation of the DPRK,” he said.
He cited widespread use of forced labour, including by children, to “support the military apparatus of the state and its ability to build weapons.”
The hearing, requested by the United States, was the first in the Security Council on human rights in North Korea in six years, and came as Pyongyang has sped up its testing of nuclear-capable missiles in the past year, heightening tensions across East Asia.
Surrounded by diplomats from more than 50 countries, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield denounced in a joint statement “human rights violations and abuses” that she said were “inextricably linked with the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile development”.
Elizabeth Salmon, the UN Human Rights Office’s special rapporteur on North Korea, said the prolonged shutdown of the country’s borders, the result of global sanctions, has led to increased hardship for the people, including food shortages.
“The frozen conflict is being used to justify continued militarisation within the DPRK with devastating effects on its people,” she said.